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At 12:15, Ben Allen, Chairman of Team Jackson, welcomed the group of 139 people to the second meeting of Team Jackson. Allen promised how informative and inspiring the presenters would be in detailing what has transpired in Midtown.
Kristi Hendrix, Co-Chair of the TJ Programs Committee and Executive Director of Midtown Partners, introduced Pastor Leflore gave the invocation.
Hendrix welcomed everyone to Midtown and expressed how the focus of the meeting was on the community and not individuals. Everything that has occurred resulted in the community coming together. Hendrix presented three Shout Outs. The first Shout Out was the Community Leadership Institute. The Community Leadership Institute was established in 2012 to teach the language and process of leadership and provide participants with the opportunity to build their leadership skills, increase their awareness of community issues; network with other leaders; and become more engaged in personal, community and governmental activities. While Midtown Partners supported the development of the institute, this project would not have seen the success it has without the work of the astute Project Manager, Monica Cannon. Monica serves as the Director of Community Outreach and is currently a resident of Midtown.
Hendrix introduced Markia Cackett, TJ News Co-Chair, who presented the LadyBugs. The LadyBugs was formed by a Midtown resident, Tonja Murphy. The LadyBugs is a mentoring program for young girls ages 6-14 who become involved in the community. The Lady Bug Club is designed to empower young ladies on how to become civic minded about family and community. Additionally, it teaches the value of education, self-confidence and self-sufficiency. With the first lady bug club meetings being held in the living room of Ms. Murphy’s home the lady bug enrollment boasts over 40 girls and has since relocated their meetings to a larger facility. The group seeks out volunteer opportunities so please contact Ms. Murphy if you or your community has an activity needing assistance.
Hendrix then presented the Millsaps Else School of Management as the final Shout Out. Millsaps has been a friend of the neighborhood for many years, but most recently the Else School’s entrepreneurial initiative, ElseWorks has become very involved with Midtown’s strategy for growing the Creative Economy. Activities include entrepreneurship workshops, individual business counseling and coaching, full scholarships to the Else School’s semester long Business Advantage program and emersion efforts within classes to assist students in connecting concepts to applicability.
Roy Decker of Duvall Decker Architects, PA presented the master plan of Midtown. Decker talked about the method to producing the plan. Through Midtown Partners, the community was engaged throughout the process by participating in meetings to make sure a holistic approach was taken to rebuild Midtown. Decker displayed projects that have been completed or proposed including new green housing, a community garden, new landscaping and more park space.
Malcolm White, Executive Director of Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division, talked about the creative economy. White discussed how MDA and the Mississippi Arts Commission has worked with communities to share what makes their communities special and reaping economic development benefits. White expressed how Midtown is a shining example of how creative energies have been harnessed to bring about change and development within a community.
Whitney Grant of Midtown Partners closed by discussing the number of professional who work in Midtown and displayed a video showing a day in the life of working professionals in the community.
Allen thanked everyone who attended and reminded everyone that the next meeting will be held in March. The meeting adjourned at 1:25pm.
The meeting is located at 126 Keener Ave. For your reference, a map is provided below. Parking is available around the meeting space in the areas highlighted in green.
At noon, Ben Allen, Chairman of Team Jackson, welcomed the group of 137 people and discussed how Team Jackson was formed. Allen explained how the bi-monthly meetings will include committee reports, Shout Outs, Community Spotlights and a featured speaker. Everyone was asked to join Team Jackson and join a committee to become involved.
Allen introduced Reverend Edward O’Connor, Dean of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral, and Rev. O’Connor gave the invocation.
Marika Cackett, Co-Chair of the News Committee, informed the group that the News Committee held a media luncheon on January 9th that was well attended. The committee introduced the media to Team Jackson and answered questions about the group.
Bob Wilson, member of the Events Committee, presented possible events that Team Jackson could put on if the group was inclined to do so. Wilson talked about taking trips to other cities in the state to obtain best practices. Wilson also presented the idea for holding an annual meeting in the fall that could focus on placemaking. The lessons learned could then be applied to all parts of the city.
Allen then presented the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership’s Vision 2022 Plan as the first Shout Out. Shout Outs highlight businesses or ventures with the capital city. Duane O’Neill, President of the Chamber, gave a brief overview of the 10 year plan for the Greater Jackson area. Within the plan, the Core City initiative focused on improving the City of Jackson. Jeff Good elaborated on the Core City initiative and asked for anyone to volunteer to serve on any committee within the initiative.
Beau Whittington, Vice-Chair of Team Jackson, talked about the importance of Team Jackson. Whittington then explained that Community Spotlights featured local community heroes. Whittington gave humorous insight into the three Spotlights who were Wanda Wilson, President of the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Kelvin Moore, General Manager of the Jackson Convention Complex, and Edward O’Connor, Dean at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral.
Mark McCormack, a developer of the Iron Horse Grill, discussed his group’s efforts to restore the Iron Horse Grill, located on the corner of Gallatin and Pearl Streets. The rebirth of the Iron Horse will include a restaurant and a live music venue. Construction is well underway. With a major emphasis on music, the developers have decided to open an information center for the Mississippi Blues Trail and Mississippi Country Music Trail. The Iron Horse Grill will help tell the story of Mississippi’s rich cultural heritage to locals and tourists.
McCormack also discussed preliminary plans for a trolley line that could run in Downtown Jackson from Capitol Street to State Street to Court Street and back to Capitol. The trolley line would connect restaurants, hotels, cultural attractions, office buildings and the Jackson Convention Complex.
Allen thanked everyone who attended and reminded everyone that the next meeting will be held in March. The meeting adjourned at 1pm.
The Millennial generation, youth born roughly between the 1980s and early 2000s, are leading change in the U.S. that will transform the ingredient of suburban success.
According to 2012 study by Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO), 88% of all Millennials, or Gen Y, stated they want to live in urban places. What does this mean for the future of car-dominated suburban locations if young adults increasingly desire to live in urban locations?
The first question to answer is why do Millennials want to live urban places. Realtors throughout the nations have noticed several trends among their Millennial first-time home buyers. Karen Smyth of Top Atlanta Real Estate says, “For the most part, the younger demographic in Atlanta is seeking housing inside the urban core. It is an urban, vibrant area, full of nightlife, dining, shopping, parks and activity.” Realtor Matt Fuller sees the same trend in San Francisco, “They [Millennials] want to be part of a walkable, vibrant, and diverse community.”
Urban scholar Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, believes this is a lasting trend. He says, “Young people just out of college tell me that they don’t want their parents’ suburban lifestyle; they’d prefer to find an affordable rental apartment in a city they love where economic opportunities are better. They don’t want to go into debt buying a big house and a big car, just so they can endure a long commute.” The fact is that Millennials aren’t interested in the suburban cul-de-sacs and office parks of their parent’s generation.
In other words, Millennials are tired of wasting time and money driving to do simple tasks – buying groceries, eating at a restaurant, or going to the gym. They want to be in close proximity to excitement, diversity, and vibrancy. They want the ability to walk to their favorite restaurants, music venues, and theaters. With their strict zoning restrictions, suburbs don’t meet this generation’s notions of quality living.
Why does it matter what Millennials want? Over the past four decades, the 76 million Baby Boomers have defined housing patterns. They wanted white picket fences, large yards, and huge houses, and that is what they got. This was chiefly because they where the largest demographic force in the U.S, and thus dictated the market.
Well, their children represent an even larger demographic. An estimated 80 million are in the Millennial generation.
So, when Chris Leinberger, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and professor of practice in urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan, was asked what might be behind a reversal of job-decentralization trend to the suburbs that has persisted over the last three decades, he easily boiled it down to a simple point: “The Millennial generation is demanding it.”
Already a new locational pattern is emerging. In the late 1990s, high-end outer suburbs boasted the most expensive housing in the United States, as measured by price per square foot. Today, the most expensive housing is in the high density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs.
According to the Realtors survey, only 12 percent of future homebuyers want drivable, suburban-fringe houses in large cookie cutter developments. Leinberger says, “Simply put, there has been a profound structural shift – a reversal of what took place in the 1950s, when drivable suburbs boomed and flourished as center cities emptied and withered.”
This is not a doom and gloom message for suburbs. Why?
First, cities will simply not be able to accommodate all the people that want to live in cities. Young adults will have to search for other places to live. Second, many Millennials can’t afford to live in a city, and will seek more affordable options.
Yes, Millennials will live in suburbs, but which suburbs will live in? Melina Duggal, a senior principal at RCLCO believes suburbs will have to change to succeed, “The suburbs will need to evolve to be attractive to Gen Y.”
Ellen Dunham-Hones, AIA and June Williamson, authors of Retrofitting Suburbia, agree. They think that the next big design project for the next fifty years is going to be helping suburbs evolve – rehabilitating dying malls, transforming parking lots into thriving pedestrian friendly market places, and re-inhabiting dead “big box” stores. Successful suburbs will incorporate walkable developments that provide pseudo urban amenities that Millennials crave.
The others – those unwilling to adopt innovative zoning codes – will decline.
What does this mean for Jackson and its downtown? Frankly, it screams opportunity. A large demographic – the largest demographic population in US history – wants a more urban lifestyle. Being that Jackson is the only urban area in the state of Mississippi, one could say that Jackson has a competitive advantage.
The question is no longer if Jackson is going to experience a revival; the question is when (or how soon) is it going to happen, and who is going to be apart of it.
1LT Matthew D. Bolian, a Metro-Jackson native, is a Distinguished Honor Graduate at the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned a MSc in Regional and Urban Planning from the London School of Economics (LSE).